So you’ve made the decision to be a working and pumping mom? Good for you. Pumping while working isn’t always easy. There can be a lot of things to overcome like figuring out a schedule, making sure you have a private place to pump, noisy co-workers, low supply issues, etc, etc, etc.
So how do you successfully breastfeed after returning to work? Well, here are my top tips for breast pumping at work!
1 – Make Sure you Have a Really, Really Good Pump
Sorry, but a manual pump or even a $100 double electric pump won’t cut it for pumping as often as you will need to while working. A quality pump is a must if you don’t want to have any supply issues.
Make sure it is a double electric pump. Those allow you to pump both breasts at the same time. You likely will need to use your breaks and lunch time to pump so there won’t be enough time to do one breast at a time.
In need of a pump?
Click here to read about two of my favorites – Medela Freestyle and the Spectra S1 Hospital Grade Pump.
2 – Get a Hands-Free Pumping Bra
If you haven’t tried using a hands-free pumping bra, then let me introduce you to one of the best pumping accessories ever! It is exactly what it sounds like; a bra that allows you to pump while keeping your hands free.
They make nursing bras with little slits in to make room for the pump attachment parts and also bustier type bras that are made to be worn only when pumping.
This will allow you to have your hands free to do other things like type on your computer, read, or my favorite, sleep! Pumping while at work doesn’t need to feel like a chore. So free your hands up to do something else!
3 – Get Organized
One thing you need to do right away is set a pumping schedule for yourself and stick to it! I recommend blocking that time out on your calendar at work especially if your office uses programs like Outlook to schedule meetings and such.
If you have the time blocked out, not only will co-workers not bother to try and schedule something with you during those times, but you will be more likely to take a break and pump. Seeing a reminder pop-up and having it set on your calendar will help you stay on track for the day and make sure you are not tempted to miss pumping sessions.
Need an example of what your work day should look like? Click here to view a Sample Pumping Schedule.
4 – Know Your Rights as a Breastfeeding Employee
The Affordable Care Act required some important amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act. All breastfeeding employees should know their rights. Simply put, you are entitled under the law:
–Take reasonable breaks to express breast milk for up to a year after your baby is born.
-Not be limited on the breaks you need to express breast milk (your employer can’t say you can only have 1 break for example) – The law allows the mother to take breaks “as needed”.
-Be provided with a place other than the bathroom (thank you very much!) that is private and free from intrusion to pump.
-Does not matter how small the business is as long as they are covered by the FLSA the employer must follow this law.
It is important to open the lines of communication with your employer. It can be uncomfortable but it will help you in the long run! You can read more about having a conversation about pumping at work with your employer here.
5 – Stop Washing your Pump Parts
Okay, of course, I don’t mean stop washing your pump parts indefinitely but do stop washing them at work. This will save you a TON of time! So ditch the soap and water and try these time-saving tips:
-Get some quick clean pump wipes – These wipes are made to be used without soap or water. You simply wipe your parts down after you are done pump, dry them off and you are set! Easy, peasy!
-Get Micro-Steam bags – These are super easy to use! All you need is a microwave and some water. The steam bags are reusable up to 5 times. Most offices have a microwave so all you need is 3 minutes and your pump parts are squeaky clean!
-Store your pump parts in a zip lock bag and refrigerate – This is great if you have access to a refrigerator. After you are done pumping just stick your pump parts into a gallon zip lock bag and pop in the fridge. Because they are kept cold, the milk on them from previous pump sessions stays fresh so no need to wash them or sanitize them. Always wash them at the end of the day at home, though. This is only for the one work day. It is not meant to replace washing indefinitely!
6 – Get Creative
Despite the Affordable Care Act saying your employer can’t make you pump in the bathroom, not all offices will be pump-friendly. You may have to get creative with where and when you pump. This will be especially true if you have a demanding job where breaks are not guaranteed (like a nurse or teacher).
So get creative! Here are some great tips if you find yourself short on time or with no place to go:
-Learn to Pump and Drive – Sounds crazy, right? Well, I did it for years and trust me it is a must when you don’t have a lot of time! You can get two extra pump sessions in during the day by pumping to and from work. Check out how to Pump and Drive here.
-Get a Car Adapter – If your office has no acceptable place to pump, then consider pumping in your car. This can be the best possible solution for some moms so don’t rule it out! You can find car adapters for most pumps. We have Medela car adapter for most pump models here!
-Carry Extra Pump Parts – In case you can’t wash your parts or are in a hurry, have an extra set to save time.
7 – Carry an Extra Shirt and Breast Pads
One of the less attractive parts of nursing is the issue of leaking. It is a good idea to always carry an extra shirt in your car in case the girls get a little wet. It happens so be prepared!
8 – Be Committed
Go into pumping and working with the mindset that you can and will be successful. Many women find a way to make it work and you can too. If you tell yourself that you will just see how it goes, you likely won’t achieve your goal and will give up.
Knowing that, in the beginning, you will be getting into a routine and there might be some hiccups will help. You will figure out a schedule that works best for you and once you do it will become second nature. So hang in there and trust that it will get better and easier!
Have tips for pumping and working? Share them here by leaving a comment!
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